The study, SWOG-9504, evaluated the use of the chemotherapy agent docetaxel (Taxotere) administered after two other chemotherapy drugs -- cisplatin and etoposide -- plus radiation therapy. Among patients treated with the regimen, 29 percent were still alive after five years versus 17 percent of patients from a previous study, SWOG-9019. Patients in the earlier study received the same chemoradiation without docetaxel. Median survival also increased from 15 months in SWOG-9019 to 26 months in SWOG-9504.
"The long-term survival data are particularly promising because they exceed the results of all other treatment approaches in this group of patients with locally advanced, Stage IIIB disease," said principal investigator David Gandara, professor of medicine and director of clinical research at UC Davis Cancer Center in Sacramento, Calif.
"The SWOG-9504 regimen can now be considered a standard of care for patients with unresectable, Stage III, non-small cell lung cancer," said Gandara, who is also chairman of the Southwest Oncology Group's Lung Cancer Committee.
Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 87 percent of all lung cancers diagnosed in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for all stages of lung cancer combined is 15 percent, a rate that has improved only slightly in the last few years. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women: More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
Interim results of a follow-up Phase III trial were a